Tuesday, April 15, 2014

the all night drive to Adelaide

Well, here we are in Adelaide on our spontaneous holiday. After packing our bags, loading up a trailer and all jumping in our bus, we drove from Brisbane to Adelaide without a stop over.

We left on Saturday at 2:30pm and arrived in Adelaide on Sunday at 7pm. It was a long, long exhausting drive but we made it safely.

Matt and I took turns driving and it was one long boring night as we just kept on going and going and swapping and swapping the driving until we reached our destination.

The kids were brilliant and kept encouraging us to keep moving so that we could get to Adelaide to see family. I will never forget when I took over the driving at 2am and every single child was awake in the back of the bus encouraging me to keep driving and saying things like 'you can do it mum, you are awesome mum'.

We all spent a very uncomfortable night snatching moments of sleep in our bus without technology (more on this another time) and without a stereo that works (our stereo decided to die just before our trip and I now have a permanent twitch in my eye!) and we survived! Just.

We spent a lot of time talking, reading and singing on our trip over. I do have to share that I did like the Lego song 'Everything is Awesome' until I had to listen to it sung over and over again in rounds by seven children.

I of course have now have my own version of the song, 'Everything is NOT Awesome' that may have been featured a little on our trip over as well!

Anyway, the long night was worth it to see our cherubs so excited to see family again and amazingly there has not been any complaints about what they had to endure to make this spontaneous holiday happen.

So here we are in Radelaide catching up with family and chilling out. So worth the trip and so worth the small budget we made it happen on!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

a spontaneous holiday

Matt and I woke up one morning this week and realised we had about 10 days free. A miracle! We had absolutely no plans booked in. So we looked at each other and decided right there and then to take a spontaneous holiday.

We tossed around a few ideas of where to stay and places to go and then decided to just pack our bags and to make it happen. We called the kids in, announced our plans, watched them get excited and then began the process of packing our bags.

Everyone grabbed a suitcase, packed their bags plus an entertainment backpack for the car, we loaded up a trailer and here we are...off on our spontaneous holiday!

Once upon a time I would have majorly stressed out about making such a trip.
Now I just go with the flow.

If we have some clothes, some food and a book to read for the trip. We are good to go. We know how to make our own fun along the way and there is nothing wrong with kids spending a little bit of time bored in a car anyway.

So the adventure begins. A change of scenery and some quality time with family is all I am hoping for.

Have you ever taken a spontaneous holiday?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven Cherubs List of Must Have Children's Toys

Sponsored by Energizer

Seven Cherubs List of Must Have Children's Toys
{According to the three smallest cherubs...}

I gave my three youngest children a special secret mission. To put together a list of must have children's toys for you to enjoy in your homes. My children love special assignments and to share their opinion.

Their secret mission was to pick out the best quality toys they could find and that they believed other children would enjoy. As this blog post is sponsored by Energizer I gave them the extra challenge that the toys needed to be battery operated.

I also let them make the decision themselves on what they wanted to recommend and did not restrict their thinking on price or educational value...which is what I personally always look at.

Were they up for the challenge? You bet they were!

To get into secret mission mode they went undercover with masks because we are all about fun and dressing up here in the Seven Cherubs house!

{Liberty - No way, how fun! Sam - I've got this! Eli - Bring it on!}

In preparing for this secret mission we talked about what toys they currently love, what toys they play with the most around home, what toys they talk to their friends about and what toy commercials they might have seen on television lately.

To get a real hands on approach to our mission we hit the shops and after much discussion, playing and handling of children's toys, this is the list that each of my cherubs came up with that they would recommend for your family:

Liberty loves her music, silly toys to make her laugh, technology so she can look like Mum, cute adorable animals and dreams of cruising in a jeep!

Eli loves to play computer games, cars that go fast...big and little, acting like a spy and loud noisy trucks!

Sam loves the idea of flying a helicopter, target practice on walls...not people (alright..I added that last part in!), cars that race fast and pillow pets that light up a room!

When we purchase children's toys for our home we try to save up and get good quality toys that will last through more than one child. This way we save money in the long run and more than one child has fond memories of a certain toy in our home. If you are going to pay for good quality toys for your children you also want a good quality battery to ensure safety and protection.

EnergizerMax with PowerSeal Technology holds power and has a shelf life (when not in use) for up to 10 years and is the best product to use in premium children's toys. Not only for long lasting power but also because it protects your cherubs favourite toy from leakage and damage of batteries up to 2 years old.

We actually have quite a few battery operated toys in our home. We have done so since they were very young. We also have a lot of educational toys/kits that don't require any batteries at all. I would have to be honest and say that the battery operated toys are played with the most in my home. My children love the extra noise, lights and technology that is often associated with them.

With the school holidays happening around Australia, children are spending more time playing and enjoying their favourite toys around the home. If you are looking for some new idea's of what to get them for a birthday or Christmas or even for a treat, we hope that you enjoy the list my children put together.

Remember: when purchasing a quality toy for your home look out for a quality battery at the same time. That way you will avoid any tears when the gift is opened!

What is your child's favourite battery operated toy?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

designing a study area for a large family

Now that I have all of my children at school and coming home with homework, I have been busy planning and designing a practical study area for our large family to use.

I wanted plenty of desk space for my children to spread homework out on, I wanted a place to store pen, pencils and other stationary supplies with easy access for my children and I wanted it to be simple and inexpensive.

We are lucky that we have the perfect room to use as a study area and after some searching I ended up buying three tables from IKEA for $35 each and putting them together to make one long desk.

I also picked up some white pots from IKEA to hold all of the pens and pencils etc. that I lined up down the middle of the desk so that my children can reach them and swap them around as they need.

I am really happy with how our large family study area turned out. The chairs we already owned so it came in under $100 for me to create. It is also the pefect fit for seven children to fit around the desk and to do homework. 

This is what it looks like when it is full of children. We normally have the children sit with older and younger mixed up so that they can help each other and I have children come and sit on the couch with me when I am listening to readers and helping with homework.

They have a lot of fun around this table talking, laughing and complaining about homework! It is hilarious listening to them and I love that they are continuing to develop strong relationships and friendships whilst doing homework.

Monday, April 7, 2014

when you are the annoying parent who will not shut up

Recently, I was talking with a couple of Mum's about parenting. It started off really nicely with each of us sharing and talking about our parenting journey. Sadly, it ended pretty badly. Well. For me anyway.

You see, at the end of the converstation I was shocked to discover that I had become my worst nightmare - the annoying parent in the group that will not shut up or stop going on about how they parent their children.

So here I was standing there having a lovely converstation when it hit me.
I was talking way too much. In fact, I had moved on from talking to preaching.

Hello! Hole in the ground. Please swallow me!

I am still so embarrassed every time I think about it.

I personally have little time for people who go off and start preaching about parenting in a 'I know it all' manner.

I never want to be seen as the annoying parent who will not shut up.

We all have such different families and different experiences and different children with different personalities there is no one way to parent.

I passionately believe that.

Yet, here I was. Preaching my way or the high way ladies...

So I have to ask myself why? Why was I going off in such a way?

A couple of reasons come to mind.

Here are my 5 excuses/reasons for being an annoying parent who will not shut up:

1. Having an 'audience' to talk about parenting to is so fun! Seriously, who doesn't love to have a captive audience who will listen to them talk about what they personally love and are passionate about? Uh huh! I went for it!

2. I am gettting to that age...you know that age where you are starting to feel more set in your way and you forget that you need to still be teachable and that you don't actually know it all! Well, it is starting a little early for me!

3. I had a really busy stressful week and I just wanted to off load it all on someone. This is not a good enough excuse in my eyes for such behaviour but that is how I felt at the time. I personally needed these women even though I was carrying on as if they needed me. Finally, someone who will listen!

4. Having a large family can make you feel like you know how to run a home a little more effienctly than other people because you deal in bigger numbers but that is not actually the case a lot of the time. We can still learn a lot from families who have less children than we do.

5. Talking about parenting felt so good compared to always writing about parenting that once I started I could not stop! Ha ha! I think I need to somehow schedule in more speaking opportunities instead of writing opportunities!

The reason I am sharing this whole experience with you is because one thing I really learned from this whole experience is that I need to be more careful how I judge other women who go off about parenting. I forget just how much as women we need other women for friendship in our lives.

The next time I am in a situation where a Mum is passionately talking about parenting and will not shut up, I need to stop and listen and to see that maybe she just needs to off load, maybe she feels she has some really good advice to share, maybe giving her the chance to share her heart will help her feel good for the rest of the week and maybe she just needs some attention and friendship.

All of those 'maybe reasons' are far more important to how annoyed I may feel at the time. From now on I am going to be far more mindful of my words and I am also going to be far more mindful of other Mum's needs.